Do you feel a stinging pain along your lower back that travels down one or both legs? How about numbness along your tailbone? If so, you may be feeling sciatica pain. While mild sciatica pain often subsides without treatment, severe pain requires medical attention. Doctors offer a myriad of treatments from medications to steroid injections to surgery, but one treatment may just be as effective—dry needling.
What Is Sciatica Pain?
When you feel a burning or stinging pain radiating from your lower back to your hips and legs, it may be from your sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, and sciatica pain occurs when the nerve is pinched. Because of its length, the pain can travel to your buttocks and down your legs. It typically affects only one side of the body.
This condition most commonly happens to people with a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. People with bone spurs, pressure due to excess body weight, and jobs that require heavy lifting are also at high risk for sciatica.
What Is Dry Needling?
Dry needling, also known as trigger point therapy, is a physical therapy technique used to relieve chronic pain and prevent future injuries. It is most effective when used in combination with other techniques.
While both involve the use of needles for relief, this treatment method should not be mistaken for acupuncture. Acupuncture aims to relieve pain by balancing the body’s energy. On the other hand, dry needling entails stimulating and unknotting your trigger points that are causing the pain.
How Dry Needling Alleviates Sciatica Pain
Sciatica can cause pain so excruciating that some patients can’t even get out of bed. Aside from radiating pain, it is also characterized by numbness and a pinching sensation. While acute sciatica typically lasts 4 to 8 weeks, it can eventually turn chronic.
To manage symptoms, doctors often prescribe painkillers and physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and steroid injections can also bring down the swelling. In conjunction with these treatment methods, your doctor may also recommend dry needling.
With dry needling, hair-thin needles puncture the skin to reach the knotted muscle. Your physical therapist gently manipulates the needle before removing it. This creates a twitch response that depolarizes the tissue. They will repeat the process at other trigger points, if necessary.
Dry needling relieves the tension in soft tissues like muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia. Experts believe that puncturing tissues stimulates blood flow to the area, thereby soothing pain. Several clinicians, like physical therapists, nurses, doctors, and chiropractors, perform this technique.
For sciatica due to lumbar stenosis, dry needling decreases the tightness in spinal muscles, reducing the compression on vertebrae and sciatic nerve. In cases of pain reaching the back of your leg, physical therapists can target the following trigger points:
- Piriformis muscles
- Gluteus minimus
- Gluteus medius
Many people hesitate to try dry needling because the procedure makes use of needles. At first prick, patients may feel discomfort or pressure against their skin. However, this is normal, and any slight pain often subsides within 2 hours to 2 days.
Dry Needling for Sciatica Pain in Cedar Park, Texas
Dry needling, coupled with proper diet and exercise, is a better option than waiting and hoping for sciatica pain to go away on its own. Experience the benefits of dry needling from the hands of experts. At Endeavor Physical Therapy & Wellness, we can tend to your needs and alleviate your pain effectively.
Our physical therapists have undergone extensive training to treat chronic pain caused by conditions like sciatica. To request an appointment, call (512) 284-7192 or use our online appointment request form.